Even the most well-planned and tightly run business needs to reach out to its target market if it hopes to succeed. Effective advertising and marketing will help you understand your prospective customers and entice them to patronize your business, which is especially important for retail and other operations where consumers have a variety of choices. This section provides articles to help you effectively advertise your products or services, understand the legal implications of advertising, develop a marketing plan and build your business image. Links to resources from government agencies, including marketing strategies from the Small Business Administration, also are provided.
The Basics of Marketing a Small Business
Marketing is nearly as important to a small business as the quality of the company's products and services. Small businesses also typically have a limited budget of money and time to devote to marketing activities. However, businesses can capture many of the benefits of marketing without spending an enormous amount of money or devoting all their time. Some effective marketing tips (more at the link below) for small businesses include:
- Build a great website. The internet is the largest contemporary marketplace and a professional presence online is important for bringing customers to your business. One important aspect of building an effective website is ensuring that it is optimized for search engines.
- Consider social media publicity. Much of the activity online takes place through social media. Because of this a presence in social media can be an easy way to ensure that your marketing efforts reach an audience.
- Encourage word of mouth referral. People trust personal recommendations from their friends and family, often more than other forms of endorsement or advertisement. Consider offering a discount for referrals.
- Target your customers and understand how to reach them. Depending on your community advertisements may be most effective online, in a newspaper, or with a local blogger or critic. Understanding how your customers communicate can help direct marketing efforts to places that are most effective.
- Survey your customers. Sometimes gathering valuable information about your customers is as simple as asking. Surveys can help you tailor your business to their needs.
- Be wary of branding based on price. Advertising yourself as having the lowest price can result to a race to the bottom. Focusing on your business's other qualities can help you set yourself apart in the market without concerns about competitors undercutting your prices.
Advertising Considerations for Your Business
When you are advertising for your business there are some concerns that relate to advertising that can help avoid pitfalls and maximize your advertising impact:
Substantiation - Any claims you make must have a "reasonable basis."
Representations - If you claim that your product or service is supported by a particular level of proof, express or implied representations, the facts must actually be so.
Special Concerns: Health, Nutrition, and Safety Products - Advertisements that include health, nutrition, or safety claims require higher levels of substantiation than other products.
Endorsements - The use of endorsements must reflect the honest opinions and beliefs of the endorsing party.
Money-Back Guarantees - The specifics of the money-back guarantee must be set forth for the consumer.
Statements Concerning Price - Statements about the price of goods must be truthful.
Free Offers - Offers of free goods or services at no extra charge are subject to certain limitations.
Warranties - Warranties must be clear and conspicuous.